Our travel agent provided us with the viaggio of a lifetime. Everything was planned to perfection, and executed perfectly. From meeting our driver at the Rome fiumicino Airport to our return to the hotel at the Rome Airport at the end of our two week tour, everything went like clock work. All of our guides at Rome, Venice, and Pisa were Outstanding. We enjoyed meeting our guides and drivers. Our agent was even able to make changes on the fly, as we learned what was possible enroute. The personal touches were especially appreciated. She even contacted the proprietor at Fattoria Colle Sala, in Chiatri Puccini managing for us to visit the grounds of the Villa Puccini where my Nona was a maid and her father a tennant farmer in the 1890's. They made it possible for us to make contact with family in the area through their conscientious efforts to assist us with making contacts. The only flaw which turned out not to matter, is we were not met by a porter when we changed trains at Florence either time. Our baggage is all on wheels, and the arrival and departure boards in the stations are very clear so we were able to make our connections without assistance. We will have a complete report with photo's of our adventure once we have an opportunity to process, and document our photos.
Best of all, we hoped to do research on our family genealogy while we were in Italy while the final day in Chiatri Puccini, we visited our actual relatives who still live in the area and run an excellent restaurant (Ristorante Prato Verde) We enjoyed an amazing meal, and learned that they have also, worked on document our history, so we have a contact that provides more complete information for our family history.
Our time in Lucca, and in Chiatri Puccini have to be the highlights of our entire trip. We were in Lucca for The Luninara di Santa Croce on the evening of September 13, and the following afternoon attended the solemnity of Santa Croce lead by the Archbishop of Lucca. Thanks to the efforts of our host were able to visit the Villa Puccini, and meet members of our Angeli family who are also descendants of my 3rd great grandfather. For travelers like ourselves, we enjoy spending time in a more rustic setting and becoming immersed in local culture, and the experience of the life in new places. Fattoria Colle Sala is a small inn and winery in rural Lucca Province. We enjoyed the self catering experience, being treated like family and invited to celebrate our hosts' child's 3rd birthday at Da Mariano, on Sunday our host took us to the other restaurant in Chiatri Puccini Prato Verde, where we met the owners whose family origin is also Angeli, and we learned that our family in California are direct descendents of Basilio Angeli who is our 3rd grandfather. We now have a direct link dating back to 1890 - 1920 between Angeli families, from the SanFrancisco Bay area of California, and the Viareggio, Chiatri Puccini, Lucca areas of the province of Lucca, Italy. There was much excitement over photographs we had and they had, and a key that goes to a former bar that is only 1 meter from the present Prato Verde Restaurant.
Knowing what we know now, we would allocate more time to visit in Lucca and the surrounds. This trip was booked as a luxury tour, and the side trip to Chiatri Puccini was off the beaten path of most tours. Since in the U.S. we travel in an RV, We are comfortable in rustic settings. We enjoyed staying at in the nicely appointed, self catered apartment, at Fattoria Colle Sala in Chiatri. If we were to take the trip again, we would allocate more time to visit family and probably stay again in Chiatri. We would probably rent a small car for getting around on the narrow roads in the mountain country. In the future I can for see Flying direct ATL-FCO, and taking the train to Florence or Lucca, obtaining a rental, car and using Lucca / Viareggio as a base for exploring other areas of northern Italy and beyond.
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